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Bearmans live life to the full, make Webster their home
Mark and Paula Bearman never intended to make Webster their long-time home. But, after being here a few years, having a few kids, making a few friends and building their dream home, this is home to them.
“I didn’t think we were planning to stay here,” Paula admitted. “All of our family is back (in North Dakota).”
The Bearmans grew up together and graduated from the same high school class in Velva, ND in 1986. They were married in 1994.
They moved to Webster in 1996 when Mark was laid off his job and he started applying for work in the tristate area. He landed a job as a telecommunications technician for ITC. Now, he’s worked for them for 25 years.
Once they were living in the area, Paula said they started meeting people and becoming part of the community.
“We just started laying down our roots,” she said. “Now we have friends who are family. In a community like this, everyone is watching out for you... then Mark built our dream home, so how do you leave that too?”
A few years ago, Mark’s mom even moved to the area to be closer to her grandchildren. Mark and Paula have two kids, Calli, 14 and Brent, 12 who both attend Webster Area School.
Paula is a family nurse practitioner. She earned her masters degree in 2014 and is pursuing her doctorate now.
The Bearman family are outdoorsmen and active in sports. They snow ski, water ski, scuba dive and more as a family. Mark helps coach his son in various sports. Their hobbies include hunting and fishing, often times as a family. They also travel as a family – Paula said they began taking one to two vacations a year as soon as their kids were old enough to fly.
They also don’t mind a night staying in playing board games – Apples to Apples is a favorite.
Most summer weekends are spent at their cabin on Enemy Swim Lake.
“It’s just play time out there,” Paula said, recounting how at her parent’s lake cabin she only remembers being made to work on the upkeep. So when Mark proposed buying the cabin, she made it part of the stipulation that it would not become a burden on the family’s leisure time. “We spend our days in the sun, the nights by a campfire and wherever you fall asleep. We’re there to enjoy it and have fun.”
They have three golden retrievers who are each certified therapy dogs. Paula handles Sandy who is the mother to Calli’s dog Dotti and Brent’s dog Ricki.
To become certified therapy dogs, Paula said they had to work with the dogs through a special trainer and then take a certification test.
“If they get one thing wrong, they fail,” she said.
The hardest part of the test, Paula said, was having them hold the “stay” command while their handler left the building. Other portions of the test passed without incident – dropping food in front of them, making loud noises to distract them – and their dogs had no problems with those. Paula’s worry was unfounded, however, since each of the dogs held the “stay” command until their handler returned.
“The biggest thing is to start when they’re babies and just repetition,” Mark said of training the dogs.
After passing the test, the Bearmans can now take the dogs into nursing homes, schools and hospitals for volunteer work. Paula said that some hotels will also let them in because they know they’re well-behaved – a bonus for the family, she said, since they travel so much.
To start out with, the Bearmans would take their dogs to the nursing home and hospital to volunteer. When Paula was the school nurse for Webster, she would sometimes take Sandy with her; she suspects the higher number of sick calls on those days was to Sandy’s credit.
“The kids loved it,” Paula said. “Through having her there, they learned dog etiquette; it was a teaching thing for the kids.”
Besides their joy in the work and full life they live together, Paula said her number one passion in life is being a mother.
“It’s been the hardest and most rewarding thing for me.
Paula was 36 before Calli was born and 38 when Brent was born.
“We didn’t think kids were going to happen for us, then boom-boom, we had the two right back to back,” Mark said.
As for Mark, besides being a father, hunting is his passion – especially elk. But with two kids who also want to go hunting now, he said it gets harder – and more expensive – to go.
The walls of their house are filled with fish and deer mounts as part of the decor. That includes a 12 pound walleye Paula caught in Canada during their honeymoon trip.
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